If you look out toward the leave-and-attendance legislation horizon, and you might have to squint a bit but not much, you can see yet another patchwork beginning to take shape. This one is on paid sick days. Multi-state employers need to watch this carefully since it is certainly heading for full-fledged “patchwork” status which, when combined with the patchworks of family and medical laws, pregnancy leave laws and disability discrimination laws, makes one mega-leave-and-attendance-patchwork!
It started with San Francisco in 2007. Then the District of Columbia, Connecticut, Seattle and Portland, OR followed. NYC is imminent, Philadelphia is one vote away. How much longer before Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles follow suit?
Wisconsin and Indiana put the kibosh on the proliferation of local leave and attendance in their states. Similar “kibosh” legislation is pending in a few other states. (BTW, if you are interested in the origins of the term “kibosh,” click here.)
Of course, a real patchwork requires federal involvement. On March 13, 2013, the Healthy Families Act was introduced into both the House and the Senate. The HFA “would allow workers to earn paid sick leave to use when they are sick, to care for a sick family member, to obtain preventive care, or to address the impacts of domestic violence,” according to the press release concerning its introduction.
To be clear, the patchwork challenge has nothing to do with the social question of whether there should or should not be paid sick days. The challenge is the proliferation of leave and attendance laws and how they interact with each other. Does the time off under paid sick day laws run concurrent with time off under these other leave-and-attendance laws or is it “stacked” on top of those laws?
The ideal solution would be a simpler, integrated national leave-and-attendance law, which is not likely to occur anytime soon. Until then, every paid sick days law should have a section entitled “Integration with other State and Federal Leave and Attendance Laws.” This will force legislators to think about the integration issue and would be most welcomed by employers aiming both to comply and to have employees with regular and predictable attendance.